I’ve seen two movies in the past week (“Sideways” and “Closer”) that have really messed me up…it’s hard to put a finger on the reasons why, specifically, these movies struck deep, but I’m willing to take a stab at what’s been going on inside my head since the viewings.
I’ll just state right off the top that both of these movies made me extremely sad and yet profoundly touched at the same time, although Closer has engaged my mind much more than sideways. In addition, Clive Owen (I wanted to deck him in the face), Natalie Portman (her sadness KILLED me) and Paul Giamatti (I wanted to walk with him through his depression…LOOK at his face in that picture above…he’s SEARCHING and not finding over and over and over again) inspired the most intense emotions in me since Joaquin Phoenix played Commodus in Gladiator (thinking of his role in that movie has ruined every other role I’ll see him in for forever and a day). Uggg…just writing that last sentence raises my hackles…”Am I not merciful!” No, Commodus, you’re not; and you’re an incestuous, misguided, petulant, murderous baby; why don’t you buck up and face your insecurity instead of always spinning the conversation and issues off on others? (that would’ve won me rave reviews in the Emperor’s court)
I’d have to say that more than anything else, both of these movies drew out in sharp relief how twisted our societal conceptions of love, intimacy, sex, and relationships have become. The flip-flopping of love as desire, love as intimacy, love as perfection, love as manipulation, love lost through jadedness, love that allows one to get laid multiple times the week before marriage, etc runs so deep in our society, and clearly showed the swamp we more often than not are willing to wade through in life that often swirls us deeper into self-doubt, lack of intimacy, and coldness instead of drawing us deeper into relationship with one another. The older I get, the more I sense the core longing I have for knowing God and being known by Him, and everything society tosses at us to cover over and inoculate against this longing built into us all. It was horribly painful to me (especially in Closer) to see that the decisions each individual made over the course of the movie built a wall higher…brick by brick…between themselves and others.
Do you remember the poster in health class in high school that had the guy with all that black junk all over his face and bruises and stuff and it said, “If you knew what your insides looked like on the outside from smoking, would you still do it?” For some reason that poster came to mind for me, and I wondered what it would be like if the emotional wounds we all carry showed themselves outwardly on us through bruises and lacerations and stuff. Would we be more willing to recognize our woundedness and need for healing, or would we all walk around and pretend like they weren’t there like we do today? To be honest with you, the reality of that picture in my mind has haunted me for a few days now. To see Natalie Portman’s character shredded emotionally time and again, the temptation and consummation of her sense of vengeance and desire for justice by sleeping with Clive to get back at Jude, and her confusion over what love means instilled in me a deep sense of sadness that’s taken awhile to dissipate. It’s even more sad knowing that so many people are in this state (including myself from time to time). Why do we think we can be self-sufficient, treat others like dirt, see relationships as a means to an end, and ultimately find we’ve only been wounding ourselves?
The last few days, as I’ve read of the relationship Adam and Eve had in the Garden with God…the relationship that was intended to last; I’ve felt my heart tugging and longing for that place and that reality…walking with God in the cool of the evening. Knowing who I was. Knowing my life was valued. Seeing the beauty of what relationship was intended to be. I want to live like that with others…and above all, to be honest with who am I with God. I don’t need to pretend to be something I’m not; He knows the truth anyways.
Why all the smokescreens and deception?